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Asia, China, Siguniang National Park, Shuangqiao Valley, Hunter's Peak (5,360m), Northeast Face, Attempt

Hunter’s Peak (5,360m), northeast face, attempt. Ahn, Chi-young, and I attempted a new route on the northeast face of Hunter’s Peak, a.k.a. Lieren Feng. A Japanese-authored photograph book with English text (The Goddess on the Mountains in Southwestern China, by Kenzo Okawa) names the peak Shourengfeng and gives its elevation as 5,472m. However, our guide called it Lieren Feng, at 5,362m, and other sources have it as 5,360. The peak may have been ascended by Japanese teams by the ridges to the left and right of the northeast face, but we are not certain. Ahn, Chi-young, and I established base camp at 4,106m on August 3. We left the next morning at 8:45 a.m. under gorgeous blue skies and made a small deposit of gear and provisions by noon at 4,484m. From here we climbed seven pitches, until conditions deteriorated enough to halt our progress at 4,713m. The only protection from the drizzling rain and falling rock was a small one-man cave that Chi-young slept in, while I slept half sitting and lying on a small platform with my legs dangling over the edge.

We started climbing again when the rain ceased the following morning at 9 a.m. The rain began to come down again at noon, just as we reached a couloir that branched up to the right. We found shelter on the left wall of the couloir and remained sheltered at 4,847m until three o’clock, when we grew restless and decided to continue on, despite the heavy drizzle. Chi-young continued to a small ledge of precariously loose slabs, with sitting space for no more than one. In continuing drizzle, he remained on a tiny ledge at 5,000m, while I stayed where I was through the night. The drizzle continued off and on with an occasional break in the fog. Morning arrived, and I traversed up to Chi-young. To my shock, the traverse consisted of enormous, unstable boulder flakes. At his belay stance we assessed our circumstances. The drizzle was not enough to provide drinking water, and we had only a few gulps left. We had our fill of falling rock, rain, and less than ideal conditions. We had been terribly misinformed of this peak’s conditions, and were ill-prepared from the start. We pulled out our Kevlar rappel line and made our way back to BC as the rain began to pick up immensely. We arrived at BC shortly after 7 p.m., drenched to the bone after 500m of rappelling.

Peter Jensen-Choi, Corean Alpine Club